|Santa Rosa - the Early Years
|Last Update: November 10, 2014
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|Oregon Pacific Railroad No. 1202
|Oregon Pacific Railroad Pullman Business Car - "Santa Rosa" Built 1917
|These photos were by Ozark Mountain Railcar, the broker who sold the
Santa Rosa to the OPR.
|Photos Courtesy of Chris McLarney, OPR volunteer, UP 25198 owner.
Chris, who is an Amtrak inspector, went down to the Niles Canyon Railroad
to perform a full inspection on the car and took these photos of the car while
it was in storage at the Brightside Yard.
|A "business car" is a unique passenger car in rail service. They were either built originally by the manufacture, such as Pullman, or were later converted by
their respective railroad owners into a business type car. A business car refers to a car that is generally designed to be largely self contained and carry
railroad executives, dignitaries or VIPs around the railroad in comfort. The cars were designed to contain only a couple larger size state room sleeping
quarters, a kitchen, dining room, secretary room and an observation room. The cars generally hosted a dozen people or less or as few as one executive or
VIP and were usually operated by a small service crew to operate the kitchen and service the riders.
Business cars of this type were the corporate jets of their day and were often assigned to high ranking officials within the company to allow them and
sometimes their families to travel to various points on the line in an age where executives would have to travel by rail anyway. The Santa Rosa, for example,
was assigned to an SP executive during at least its early years. These cars were sometimes assigned to the same person for many years, such as the Santa
Rosa being assigned to Arthur Edwin Sweet from approximately 1920 through 1934. Other business cars rotated numerous times and sometimes had their
names changed to reflect their assignment.
They were generally equipped to be the last car in the train, often having special railroad required lighting for either reverse moves or to mark end of train.
The rear portion of these cars often had a larger observation deck and larger than normal windows.
Southern Pacific Railroad is thought to have purchased and/or converted least 100 business cars over the life of the company.
These types of cars are extremely popular today with private car owners who now operate these cars as private cars that can be equipped to travel and tour
the country as Amtrak certified passenger cars. However, business cars are fairly rare. Few were made compared to regular passenger, baggage, lounge
and other cars, designed to accommodate train loads of common riders.
Today, private railroad car owners have an association and publication through the Railroad Passenger Car Alliance.
|About Arthur Edwin Sweet (Assigned this car 1919-1934)
Very special thanks to the California State Rail Museum Library and Librarian Cara Randall for
supplying some of the information contained here.
Arthur Edwin Sweet was born on October 26, 1865 in Pascoag, Rhode Island to a George Hopkins Sweet and Emeline Juliette Hopkins. Arthur's first son was born in 1906 and
appears to have passed away in 1981. He had a wife named Mable and a daughter named Marjorie, all pictured above. The above picture is said to have been taken in 1923 next to
the Santa Rosa. This appears to coincide with the known ages of those in the photo. Shown in the photo are two additional people who were likely SP employees who tended the car
while it was in use. That would have included at least one cook and a servent/maid of some type. Executives of this type might also have had a personal secretary and the car was
equipped with personal quarters for all of these people.
|Photo taken by and courtesy of Robert Morris. Click here for his website with many other railroad photos.
Train 51-52, San Joaquin Daylight, SP, early 1960s. Taken in Oakland at 16th Street. At first I thought this might be the Santa Rosa, but closer examination leads us to believe it's not
the Santa Rosa, but a very close cousin and a Pullman made around the same era. It does not otherwise match any other Pullman SP business car photos that we've seen to date.
|Photo taken by and courtesy of Robert Morris. Click here for his website with many other railroad photos.
Santa Rosa pulls out of Glendale, California in 1960, on the rear of the LARK, San Francisco to Los Angeles all sleeper car SP passenger train. Passengers are waiting for the
northbound Coast Daylight. Robert indicates that the car may contain SP executives who were at a meeting at 65 Market St.
|This is the history of the Santa Rosa as we know it now. It is currently a work in progress and all additions, no matter how small and all
corrections are more than welcome. Email the webmaster here.
Special thanks to Jeff Cauthen and Don Munger of the SP Historical Society for much of the information contained here.
The Santa Rosa was built in 1917 by the Pullman Company as a heavy weight business car. The car was originally ordered by and built for, the El Paso &
Southwestern Railroad. It was named the Santa Rosa and originally numbered 500. It was built under Pullman plan No. 2794A, lot 4473, and listed as a
private car. It was the only Pullman private car to be directly ordered by the EP&SW. EP&SW Specification number was PV-805.
The original Santa Rosa car body was 73' 6" long over end sills and 82' long coupled. It was built entirely of steel and originally weighed 125,400lbs. (car
body only, excluding trucks). The original Commonwealth 6 wheel trucks had an 11' wheel base, 5-1/2" x 10" journals, clasp brakes, 36" wheels and
weighed 23,550lbs each. Total original weight for the car was 172,500lbs.
Less than a year after it was built, the car would be pressed into war service during World War 1. From 1918-1920, the car was transferred to the USRA
(United States Railroad Administration) which nationalized all U.S. Railroads for war service. The USRA temporarily renumbered the car USRA No. 91. Who
operated the car from 1917-1919 has so far been lost to history, but in all likelihood the car remained on the EP&SW lines during the duration of the war. In
1920, the USRA hired Arthur Edwin Sweet to manage the EP&SW railroad and he was assigned this car. Mr. Sweet would play a predominate role in the
car's use for its first couple of decades. Shortly after Mr. Sweet took over operations of the EP&SW, the USRA relinquished control of the railroads and they
returned to being private corporations. The Santa Rosa was renumbered back to EP&SW No. 500.
When the Southern Pacific Railroad took over operations of the EP&SW, but leaving the railroad and name intact, Mr. Sweet continued as the SP general
manager of the EP&SW. Upon the SP official take over in approximately 1924, the Santa Rosa, became a Southern Pacific asset. It was officially
renumbered No. 128, in line with the existing Southern Pacific business car fleet, on November 26, 1925. The SP drew a floor plan for the car and listed it as
Some sources indicate that in 1925, the car received a steel under body and sheathing at the SP Sacramento Shops. This is plausible as the SP may have
wanted to bring the car up to SP standards as soon as it entered official SP service. However, other sources indicate the car was always an all steel car from
its original construction.
Mr. Sweet continued to use the Santa Rosa as his private business car as Southern Pacific manager of the EP&SW through at least the mid to late 1920s.
He was then promoted to Southern Pacific Assistant General Manager. It's believed he still used this same private car until his death on October 13, 1934.
See below for much more detailed information on Arthur Sweet's railroad service and a photo.
|Photo of Arthur Sweet Sr. and his family and two apparent railroad employees standing next to the Santa Rosa. This photo is said to have been taken in 1923
when Mr. Sweet and the Santa Rosa still officially worked for the El Paso & Southwestern railroad.
|By the 1920s, the Santa Rosa had straight electrical lighting with a body hung 4Kw axle generator and a standard Pullman wood with steel lining battery box.
At some point, a truck mounted axle generator replaced the body hung unit. A combination of Chicago Car Heating vapor system and standard Pullman
heater provided car heating. The Pullman heater would later be replaced by a Baker heater. Water was provided by an under body mounted APWS water
tank, which was pressurized by train air. At some point an onboard compressor was added that would provide water pressure when train air was not
Originally the observation room, private rooms and passage ways were finished in Mexican mahogany, lightly stained. The dining room was originally finished
in walnut. The main shower and bath was enameled white from the floor up. The kitchen end of the car had steel walls which were painted in grained oak
finish. The general toilet was also enameled white. Much of this would change over the years, however.
As originally delivered, the car was painted in Pullman Green with Gold Leaf lettering and decoration. It was repainted Dark Olive Green with Gold Leaf
lettering after being acquired by the SP.
There is a record of the Santa Rosa No. 128 having been repaired by the Southern Pacific with new fans in 1927. (thanks to Ken Shattock for the info)
In 1934, the Santa Rosa would cease to be used by Mr. Sweet, upon his death. The car was overhauled in 1937 and included the addition of air
conditioning. A Waukesha (Ice engine and sub-cooler) air conditioning system was completed on July 22, 1937. The revised car weight was now 187,800lbs,
This would be almost 15,000 lbs heavier than it was in 1917. At some point a concrete under floor may have been added and this might account for the extra
In 1939 the car was assigned to the Southern Pacific VP Operations. It would be used by L.B. McDonald and J.W. Corbett.
|In February 1968, after 51 years of service, the car was officially retired by the SP. It was sold to the Yreka Western Railroad on March 18, 1968 for a price
of $10,000. The car was renumbered Yreka Western No. 68 in honor of the year it was purchased. The Yreka Western Railroad was owned by Willis Kyle at
the time. Willis Kyle owned several railroads and would later acquire more, having purchased the Yreka Western in 1956. He operated a combination of
freight and tourist railroad operations and the Santa Rosa was meant to be his personal business car.
It appears that Willis Kyle kept the Santa Rosa at the Yreka Western during most of the 1960s through the 1980s. Some sources indicated that it was used
on the Kyle's Oregon Pacific & Eastern Railroad with Jon Farley photos from 1986 confirms that it was on the OP&E during at least that year. (see below) In
1987, passenger excursions on the OP&E ended and a lot of the passenger and steam related equipment was moved back to Yreka in a "hospital" train. It's
most likely that the Santa Rosa moved back to Yreka at this time as well.
Willis Kyle died in September 1991, while he was overseeing the future take over the SP branch lines that would later become the SJVR. In January 1992,
Kyle Railways officially took over the San Joaquin Valley Railroad. It appears that the family of Willis Kyle decided to bring the Santa Rosa out of storage and
use it on the SJVR. The Santa Rosa was first delivered to the SP Fresno Yard in 1992. It was then moved to Glorietta on the SP Friant Branch and was
stored at a Wawona Frozen Foods siding for approximately a year. The owner of Wawona was a personal friend of Willis Kyle and appears to have allowed
the storage as a favor to the family. Around this time, ownership of the Santa Rosa appears to have officially changed from the Yreka Western to Kyle
In 1993, the Santa Rosa was moved to the new San Joaquin Valley Railroad. It received a fresh Kyle Railways blue goose paint scheme. See below for
photos of the Santa Rosa in these colors during the 1990s. It was then used on the Exeter Branch by the Kyle family and hired out for occasional private
excursions in 1993 and 1994. After that it remained stored on the SJVR until at least 1997, when Kyle Railways was bought out by States Rail (RailAmerica
today). It's not clear what other alterations Kyle Railways may have done to the car. Everything on the car today appears to remain very faithful to the
1950s updated drawings. A old style TV adapter and connection exists on the car and while this may date to the SP years, it was likely added by either the
Yreka Western or Kyle Railways.
|Photos taken by and courtesy of Don Bowen. Click here for his website with many other railroad photos. Photos from left to right:
Photo 1 and 2: Coming from Fresno, CA to Exeter, May 1993 -- Photo 3: Stored April 1994 in Exeter, CA. Photo 4: Date unknown VIP special, north of Exeter, CA (probably 1993 or
1994) Photo 5: Whistle Stop campaign for a local Sheriff candidate somewhere on the Exeter Branch, 1994.
|Some sources indicate that the Santa Rosa was returned to the Yreka Western, which was the only railroad still owned by the Kyle family and former owners
of Kyle Railways. It appears the Santa Rosa remained at the Yreka Western until sold to a private owner in 2004.
|Photos taken by JT Kennedy and courtesy of Don Ross Collection. Click here for his website with many other railroad photos.
Photo taken on the SJVR Exeter Branch in 1997. The Santa Rosa is stored several years after it was last used for tours on the SJVR. Shortly after this photo was taken, the SVJR and
Kyle Railways parent company would be sold. Where and when the Santa Rosa left the SJVR is not clear, but it possibly returned the Yreka Western after this.
|Photos taken by and courtesy of Robert Souter. Taken 12-8-09 at the Port of Redwood City, California
Robert caught the Santa Rosa while set out at the Port of Redwood City after the prior owner just had it freshly painted in Pullman green along with other body work and repairs.
Next stop would be the Niles Canyon Railroad a few weeks later (see below). Owner renamed the car "Niles".
|At some point in the early 2000s, the car was purchased by a private owner from the Kyle family. The new owner set about cosmetically restoring the car
both internally and externally and had major plans for the car, including making it Amtrak compatible.
The car was moved to the Port of Redwood City where it was repainted and renamed "Niles" in approximately 2009, in homage to its new future home on the
Niles Canyon Railroad. It was also renumbered RPCX 415. The exact work performed by this owner is not clear, but we understand the much of the interior
wood work was replaced or at least restored. Our research shows that a good portion of the wood work is original to the car, so it may have been largely
restored. The owner appears to have taken pains to restore the car to its 1917 paint, both internally and externally.
Stainless steel panels in the main bathroom were repainted white as were much of the interior. Unfortunately, the white paint has not adhered to the newer
stainless steel as well as hoped and much as flaked off in the main bathroom. The rest of the car has fared better. The exterior of the car was repainted in
original Pullman green with a black roof. Radio and horn equipment in the car appears to have been removed sometime during or prior to the last ownership
of the car.
In the Spring of 2011 after significant expenditure to restore the car, the owner changed his mind and decided to sell the car. The OPR then purchased the
car and set about bringing it to its new home in Oregon
|Photos taken by and courtesy of Robert Souter. Taken 1-13-10 at the Niles Canyon Railway Interchange.
Robert caught the Santa Rosa while being set out by UP's Newark, CA based LRM-54 local at the Niles Canyon Railway interchange.
|Additional Resources and Links
Listing of other SP business cars including some specs and photos.
|Arthur Edwin Sweet began his railroad service in Jully 1883 at the age of 18 years old as a messenger for the superintendent's office at the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway at Las
Vegas, New Mexico. In 1886, he moved to the AT & SF's trainmaster's office. In 1889, he became a clerk to the superintendent of the AT&SF in San Marcial, New Mexico and moved to
El Paso, Texas in the early 1890s.
He became the Chief Clerk to the Superintendent in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1893, moving to Topeka, Kansas, where he became the transportation clerk for the general
superintendent's Office of the AT&SF. In 1897 he became the chief clerk to the assistant general superintendent of the AT&SF.
On Feb 1, 1900 Arther Sweet succeeded JW Robbins as Trainmaster of the of the Missouri Division of the AT&SF at Marceline, Missouri. On July 1, 1902, he became the Trainmaster
of the New Mexico division of the AT&SF at Las Vegas.
On July 5, 1902 he was promoted to become assistant to general manager of the AT&SF HU Mudge.
On August 1, 1905 he became the General Manager of the Arkansas Southern Railroad at Ruston, Louisiana. Then on February 1, 1906, he became the assistant to second Vice
President of the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Railway at Chicago, Illinois. On April 1, 1907, he became the general superintendent of the Southwestern District of the Rock Island
Lines, Topeka, Kansas.
On December 2, 1909 he moved back to Chicago where he became the assistant to the President of the Rock Island Lines, again working for HU Mudge who himself was just
On February 1, 1911, Mr. Sweet was promoted to General Manager, Second District of the Rock Island Lines and moved to Topeka, Kansas.
In January 1916 he became the Vice President and General Manager of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, again following HU Mudge who became President of the D&RG just a year
In 1918 when the Federal Government took over all railroads in the U.S. for the war effort and brought them under direct control, heads of those railroads often left as the corporations
were temporary suspended and all control handed over to government employees. HU Mudge was no longer head of the D&RG and Mr. Sweet appears to have left the D&RG as well
during the war.
He is listed as "other non-railroad" business from sometime 1918 to mid 1919.
In July 1919, he was hired by the Federal Government to be the Federal Manager over the still Federally managed (from the war) El Paso & Southwestern Railroad at El Paso, Texas.
This would begin his relationship with his railroad and the private business car, Santa Rosa.
While the Santa Rosa was built in 1917, it was, in all likelihood, not used by the railroad for its intended purpose during the war. However, Mr. Sweet almost certainly would have been
assigned this car when he became the Federal Manager of the the EP & SW immediately after the war.
On March 1, 1920, control over the El Paso & Southwestern was handed back to the corporation and Mr. Sweet became the Vice President & General Manager of the El Paso &
Southwestern System (parent company to all related subsidiary railroads.. In that capacity, he would have continued to use the Santa Rosa.
When the Southern Pacific Railroad took over the El Paso & Southwestern System in November 1924, Mr. Sweet became an assistant General Manager of the Southern Pacific
Company, based in El Paso, Texas and continued to run the El Paso & South Western Division of the Southern Pacific Railroad.
The Santa Rosa was transferred to Southern Pacific ownership in 1924 and renumbered from No. 500 to No. 128 to be in line with the rest of the Southern Pacific business car fleet.
He appears to have remained in that role until his death on October 13, 1934. It's believe the Santa Rosa remained with him as his private car until his death.
|Photos of the interior of the Santa Rosa, which include photos of the main observation room, one of the suites and the dining room.
These photos were taken in 2012, prior the addition of chairs for its current passenger excursion service.
|Photos of the Santa Rosa being turned on the Brooklyn Yard turn table in Portland, Oregon. The car needed to be turned so that it was pointing in the right direction when
it arrived on the OPR for the first time, a few days later.
|Photos taken by and courtesy of Jon Farley.
These photos were taken by Jon in the late summer of 1986, showing the Santa Rose painted in mostly white and in storage on the Oregon Pacific & Eastern, another railroad owned
by Willis Kyle.
|In the 1950s, the car would see its biggest overhaul and changes yet. In 1950, state room A was converted into an office, leaving only two main staterooms,
B and C. Although multiple berths remain throughout the car and a berth existed in the Office as well. Stateroom A was always the smallest stateroom in
the car and it made more sense to convert this into a secretaries room or office.
On November 16, 1956, despite being almost 40 years, the SP authorized major improvements to the car under SP authorization A.F.E. 412-016. On
December 10, 1956 the SP drew up plans of what the car would look like when finished. See below for this drawing. Interestingly, while the drawing is mostly
faithful to the work actually done, a few planned items in the drawing were changed during the course of the rebuild. For example, the rear wall was planned
to be moved inward 14" to give more room on the rear deck, but this never happened.
Although we aren't sure if we know all of the work that was done during this rebuild, we do know that the SP did at least the following....
A used Waukesha engine generator was added to the car body to replace the axle driven unit. The Baker heater was removed and replaced by a propane
fired standby heating system. A seal Adlake thermopane sash was added to the front door and cable type curtains were added to the windows. The coal
range was replaced with propane fired range in kitchen and propane tank storage added under the car. A new water heater was also installed.
Some of the most extensive alterations happened in the kitchen and kitchen end of the car body. The kitchen was completely overhauled with new cabinets.
The kitchen windows were revised and a new kitchen loading door was added to the side of the car. This loading door was necessary as the forward
vestibule, which had been open to the sides had the sides sealed off and enclosed during this rebuild. This would create extra space for water heaters and
for a new refrigerator unit.
Also a new class light and mars light housing extension was added to the rear roof line, along with rear facing lower track lights. A radio system and phone
system were also part of the car and even if they existed prior to 1957, they were likely updated during the 1957 rebuild. The phone system having a shore
connection for while the car was in a station.
The trucks were replaced with SP Class 6-TC-7 trucks with bolster anchors and roller bearing journals. All of this work was completed by May 6, 1957. The
car was painted in Tow-Tone Gray scheme a new SP floor plan No. 7 was issued for the car (see photo below).
Most of the alternations of the 1957 rebuild exist with the car today. We believe additional alternations were made during that extensive rebuild that could
include a complete revamping of the entire electrical system, addition of 110 volt rotary inverter that exists today as well as other new systems.
By the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Santa Rosa seems to have seen regular service in California. Some sources indicating that it was regularly on the tail
end of Train 51, the westbound SJ Daylight. During this period and probably through its final days on the SP, sources indicate that it was officially assigned
to the Chief Mechanical Officer of the SP as late as at least 1966. With the "Del Monte" assigned to the VPO, the "Stanford" assigned to the President of the
SP, "Airslie" to the VP of Traffic and the "Sunset" business cars, assigned to the DJR. (Thanks to JLY of trainorders for this info)
|Photo by Wilber C. Whittaker.
Official SP Caryards, November 16, 1947.
|Santa Rosa - 1920s - 1940s
|Santa Rosa - 1950s & 1960s - Major Overhaul - The Final SP Years
|Santa Rosa - SP Retirement - New Life with Willis Kyle
|Santa Rosa - late 1990s early 2000s - Temporarily Renamed NILES and Numbered 415
|Santa Rosa - 2011 through Today - OPR Ownership
|When the OPR purchased the car in 2011, it was intended to be used for occasional excursion service and eventually be converted into Amtrak compatible for
mainline service by the OPR's owner.
Work was begun on the car by OPR crews to begin converting the prior non-working heating system into a new water heater system. Major upgrades to the
electrical system were begun, including brand new batteries and an on board shore powered charging system. The car was cleaned and furnished with basic
chairs for passenger seating in the observation room, dining room and office.
In 2013 the car was pressed into OPR excursion service. This service was intended to be occasional, but because the car has become so popular, its been
used on an almost weekly basis ever since. This weekly service along with other pressing projects around the OPR has stalled some projects to upgrade the
Santa Rosa for the time being.
Currently the Santa Rosa has no heating system and the AC system, although intact, is not functional due to lack of freon and leaks. Heating in the winter is
augmented by a small electric heaters and AC in the summer is augmented by a large electrical fans in the car.
The electrical system in the Santa Rosa is fully functional, including 32 volt batteries and propane fired generator which powers most systems in the car. Fully
functional 110 AC converter supplies power several AC outlets throughout the car. Recently an air horn was added to the Santa Rosa and the original
electric horn actuator (probably from the 1950s rebuild) was repaired and put back into service as were the track lights.
The mars light and class lights from the 1957 rebuild are still fully functional. We've also added restored side rear electric marker lights that are also fully
functional and are similar to those used on the car in the 1950s and 1960s.
The air pressurized water system appears to fully functional, although the system is not currently needed and therefore the water tanks remain empty most of
the time. There is, however, no water heater in the car at the moment.
The propane fired range and kitchen has not been used by the OPR as its not been needed. We presume it still functions however.
All restrooms function on the car as they are still the old style "dump onto the tracks" toilets as originally designed on the car. Of course the OPR limits the
restroom use to emergencies only for this reason.
|Santa Rosa - INTERIOR PHOTOS
|Santa Rosa - EXTERIOR PHOTOS current
|Photos of the interior of the Santa Rosa as it looks today with the addition of temporary chairs for excursion passenger service on the OPR.
|Photos of the exterior of the Santa Rosa, being used in weekly OPR excursion service.
|Santa Rosa - Arther Edwin Sweet, original user
|About Pullman and Southern Pacific Business Cars
|Drawing courtesy of Jeff Cauthen and Don Munger of the SP Historical Society.
While the drawing is very accurate to how the car appears today, a few descrepencies exist due change of work orders during the 1957 rebuild. The rear wall was not moved 14"
inward as shown in the drawing. A shower was installed in the main bathroom and a window removed instead of the tub shown in the drawing. The sliding door in the rear kitchen
was never installed.